Former NBA head coach and five-time NBA All-Star Paul Westphal, now in his second year as men’s basketball head coach at Pepperdine University, directed the Waves to a share of last season’s West Coast Conference (WCC) title and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Westphal, a member of the 1974 world champion Celtics, has been elected to the All-NBA team four times.
AW: Why enter the college ranks and not stay in the pros?
PW: I’ve always enjoyed college basketball and working with kids that age. I really didn’t know what my next job would be [after leaving the Seattle Supersonics in 2000], and I was going to try to write a book. That’s when the Pepperdine job opened up. Because of the quality of the school, the location, and the potential, I felt it was a job I couldn’t turn down.
AW: What are your goals for the Pepperdine program?
PW: We want to consistently be a top 20 team, getting to the NCAA playoffs, and try to go as deep as possible every year.
AW: What challenges does your team face?
PW: We’re in the shadow of USC and UCLA, and the Pac-10. What we have to do is be the giant killers of the area and carve out a niche for ourselves that way.